World of Trouble produced one of the more impressive displays turned in by a three-year-old this young season when taking the $125,000 Pasco over seven furlongs by nearly 14 lengths on January 20, but the swift son of Kantharos will have to be even better to stretch his speed 1 1/16 miles on Saturday in the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
The Tampa Bay Derby, as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, offers qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers, with the winner virtually assured a spot in the Derby starting gate.
World of Trouble would seem suspect going much farther than Saturday’s trip, but is the likely pacesetter under Irad Ortiz Jr. How long he lasts will depend on the pressure applied by rivals such as Flameaway, the upset, wire-to-wire winner of the Sam F. Davis (G3) last month. One of only two in the field currently not nominated to the Triple Crown, the Scat Daddy colt is by far the most accomplished with four stakes victories in seven starts to his credit.
Others that figure to be in close attendance are Grandpa Knows Best and Quip, both unraced since the Churchill Downs fall meet in November. The former earned maiden and allowance wins at the Louisville track last fall, while Quip, also a two-time winner, finished seventh in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last out.
Vino Rosso adds blinkers for the Tampa Bay Derby after running third in the Sam Davis. Losing ground, and apparently focus, around the far turn in the Davis, the Todd Pletcher-trained son of Curlin did his best running very late to narrow the gap between he and Flameaway to 1 1/4 lengths.
Tiz Mischief, a close second in the Kentucky Jockey Club, was a distant third in the Holy Bull (G2) to Audible in his season debut for Dale Romans. Untamed Domain, a son of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, will try dirt for the first time. Hero of the Summer (G2) and a strong second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last term, he enters off a third in the Dania Beach (G3) at Gulfstream.
The field of 11 also includes Free Drop Billy and Enticed, but both were entered in Saturday’s Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct and are expected to run there unless late-week transportation plans to New York are stymied.